ask Holistic Horse: Karen Tappenden
Flax can improve skin coat quality and, for that reason alone, many horsemen and women use the ancient seed of luster. Flax is the richest source of Omega-3 in any vegetable source of which we know.
Flax is an oilseed that belongs to the genus Linum, one of ten genera in the family Linaceae . The genus contains more than 100 annual and perennial species. Cultivated flax belongs to the species L. usitatissimum , and its varieties are of two types: one is grown for oil and the other for fiber production (1). All flax varieties registered (registered seed) at present in Canada are brown-seeded. Canada is one of the world's leading exporters of flax seed (2).
Researchers from the University of Toronto performed a study on the potential benefits of flax. Their results showed that flax seed could lower serum cholesterol and also prevent the growth of new cancer cells in humans. The FDA presented their findings at a recent convention on Experimental Biology and related the following findings: Levels of 1.25 and 2.5% flax in the diet stimulated the immune system. Flax increased vitamin D levels and increased the retention of calcium, magnesium and phosphate. Flax is very high in phytoestrogenic lignans*, which are anti-viral, anti-bacterial (3), and which have anti-tumor properties and may be linked, in test animals, to a low incidence of breast cancer and colon cancer. When humans were fed moderately high levels of flax, compared to the same level of oat bran, flax has shown to be better in lowering triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL, and had favorable effects on insulin activity (2).
Other resources report that the protein in flaxseed is of high quality and is easily digested. Flax seeds also contain mucilage, which is an excellent natural laxative (2). The pet industry is embracing the flax seed with open arms.
According to Sean Moriarty, President of Key Nutrition and Omega Fields, an overabundance of Omega-6 can cause inflammation which can lead to joint problems. Most commonly fed vegetable oils and grain based feeds have an abundance of Omega 6 and little Omega-3 fatty acids creating an undesirable ratio.
Fatty Acid Composition (g Fatty Acid/100g) for Various Plant Oils
FOOD OMEGA-6 OMEGA-3 RATIO Corn 52 1 52 Flax 12.7 57 0.22 Rice Bran 33.4 1.6 20.9 Soybean 55.1 6.8 7.5 Sunflower 69 0.01 690
American Druggist, July 1997, Omega-3 Essential for Good Health, Ross Pelton, R.Phl, Ph.D., D.C.N.
Flax seed is far more than an additive for a better coat; with its immune boosting properties it should be considered a staple of the equine diet.
*phytoestrogenic plant origin lignans are platelet activating factor receptor antagonists
1) Saskatchewan Centre for Soils Research at the College of Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon
2) Symmetry Herbal and Nutritional Supplements
3) The Grain & Salt Society
Contra indicated for Human's with Hypo-Thyroid